By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
The cost of office space is rising. Globalization has created a 24-hour business cycle at the same time work-life balance tops the list of employee demands. These factors now govern the way modern businesses think about their workplaces. To remain competitive and successful, companies need to cultivate a workplace that supports these trends. Or, they can recognize coworking benefits and leave the struggle of workspace optimization to someone else.
Many companies are exploring the benefits of coworking and are seeing the broad-ranging possibilities of transitioning employees to remote workspaces. Coworking not only brings much-needed flexibility to the physical challenges of office space, but also to how employees do work. Coworking is a natural solution to outsourcing office space.
The roots of the coworking movement
The benefits of coworking—and the movement in general—date back to 1995. Originally called “hackerspaces,” early coworking hubs catered to programmers and coders looking to collaborate on the next great program. Hackerspaces were more than a collective, communal destination. They popularized innovative concepts like standing desks and flexible workspaces.
It wasn’t until 2005 when a software engineer named Brad Neuberg coined the term “co-working” that the movement officially took off. Nueberg founded the San Francisco Coworking Space as a way to re-create his own work environment and opened it up to others for a flat monthly fee. His idea was a hit and soon spawned similar spaces in major metropolitan areas across the country, including New York and Los Angeles. By 2012, there were more than 2,000 such spaces.
Coworking has come a long way in a short time—more than just losing the hyphen in Nueburg’s original terminology. Today, there are dozens of major coworking companies that offer flexible workspaces to hundreds of thousands of professionals every day. And the movement continues to grow. The reason lies in the many benefits of coworking.
The benefits of coworking
Most coworking space benefits are obvious, but some are more tangential. Take a look at why smart companies are transitioning employees to remote work sites and buying coworking memberships:
- Cost: Match up the monthly cost of a commercial lease against the average seat cost at a coworking space and the numbers speak for themselves. Paired with better utilization of existing space and coworking becomes even more cost-effective.
- Flexibility: Employees can more easily acclimate themselves easier to non-traditional work schedules outside the office. Coworking spaces provide the structure of a typical workplace without the rigidity of traditional hours.
- Network: Businesses rely on partnerships. Coworking spaces offer exposure to professionals from all walks of life. They can share skills, resources, and business opportunities. Not only is this advantageous to employees, it’s a boon for their business if new affiliations lead to partnerships.
- Productivity: Letting employees work on their own time, in their own way, is key in unlocking their fullest productivity potential. Just be sure to set clear standards and goals, leaving the path to them open to interpretation. Remote workers will gravitate to coworking spaces as the place where they can focus on work.
- Comfort: Comfort is central to coworking, not only in the physical sense, but cognitively as well. Well-furnished spaces with unique ambiance put workers at ease, while lack of inter-office politicking and forced participation relax the mind. Coworking delivers the peace needed to focus on the work.
Delving deeper, companies and employees alike benefit from so much more. A great example is the phenomenon of cloud migration. Before employees can work remotely, they need access to the tools and resources available to them in the office. Heralding the shift to coworking is a mass migration away from classic enterprise software to more intuitive cloud-based platforms. This “out with the old, in with the new” mentality has unlocked an entire subset of benefits associated with modern software and cloud computing.
There’s also coworking benefits around talent attraction and employee satisfaction. Employees who are happy with their freedom and contributions have a higher opinion of their employer and career. This happiness attracts other skilled professionals and fosters a positive company culture—all without ever stepping foot in a traditional office.
The demand for coworking is growing
The benefits of coworking spaces covers a wide breadth. It often creates a happy medium in the face of tumultuous alternatives, like shaking up the office floor plan or geographically transferring employees. In some cases, it may even reduce costs enough to prevent downsizing.
At its core, coworking is much more than a trend. It’s the workplace’s next evolution, and demand is growing. Current projections put the pace of the industry at 26,000 new coworking spaces by 2022! And, as Fortune 100 and multinational companies lead the migration, it’s clear the benefits of coworking are true and validated.
Keep reading: What is coworking? We take a look into the future of coworking.